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WHO Slammed - Will Ebola Change the Game? - Our Take

A call to action

We think it’s a good thing to take responsibility. To admit when we get things wrong and to take action to put them right. To make amends.

The critical report today by an independent panel of international experts on the tragically inadequate response to the Ebola Pandemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia reinforces our Founder’s call to action for the Ebola Generation made yesterday – the World owes Ebola’s Generation a debt.

We hope the WHO takes the report on the chin and welcomes the positive recommendations.

You can read the full report here published in the Lancet today.

“Immense human suffering, fear & chaos“

The Report pulls no punches reminding us all the Ebola epidemic “brought national health systems to their knees, rolled back hard-won social and economic gains in a region recovering from civil wars, sparked worldwide panic, and cost at least several billion dollars in short-term control efforts and economic losses.”

The Report also sees that while the Ebola outbreak “engendered acts of understanding, courage, and solidarity,” it also caused “immense human suffering, fear and chaos, largely unchecked by high-level political leadership or reliable and rapid institutional responses.”

"Late, Feeble & Uncoordinated"

The hard-hitting Report critises ways institutions and nations responded to the Ebola crisis, “The most egregious failure was by WHO in the delay in sounding the alarm,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Mosoka Fallah (Action Contre la Faim International) said, “The human misery and deaths from the Ebola epidemic demands reflection on how and why the global response to the greatest Ebola calamity in human history was late, feeble, and uncoordinated. The threat of infectious disease anywhere is the threat of infectious disease everywhere. The world has become one big village.”

Why does this matter?

We believe this is so important because we know that Ebola will likely return periodically, as it has in the DR Congo, and if we are unable to contain it when it appears all our Nation’s will fear and suffer.

We strongly agree with the hopeful assessment made by Professor Peter Piot, co-discoverer of the Ebola virus in DR Congo. “The AIDS pandemic put global health on the world’s agenda. The Ebola crisis in West Africa should now be an equal game-changer for how the world prevents and responds to epidemics.”

Positive recommendations

The Report makes 10 positive recommendations falling into four areas:

  • preventing major disease outbreaks

  • responding to outbreaks

  • producing and sharing data, knowledge, and technologies

  • improving the governance of the global health system, “with a focus on the World Health Organization.”

One key recommendation is for the WHO to create a dedicated centre “for outbreak response, with strong technical capacity, protected budget, and clear lines of accountability,” governed by a separate board independent of the WHO bureaucracy.

A game changer then?

You can follow the debate on our Twitter feed here but a game changer?

Well, that remains to be seen and measured in concrete steps but we hope the pandemic will be a game changer for Institutions and Governments and they will now put a higher price on preventing human suffering.

And we welcome WHO Africa’s promise to maintain an enhanced staff presence in Sierra Leone to support enhanced surveillance and recovery of essential health services made last week (11/11) and their promise today in their annual report (an untimely release perhaps) to rebuild health systems resilience.

But we also know that we must all play our part remaining vigilant and letting each other know of local projects supporting the Report’s recommendations.

A resource 4 local projects

Carl, a friend on twitter, told us today about CHOPUP’s new Ebola Strike Force, a fun computer game raising awareness and teaching youngsters prevention.

We thought this was good so we thought maybe we can start a resource page on our website of good practice projects that help us all remain vigilant.

What do you think? Let us have your ideas to tell people about.

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